Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spread the Word, Save the Planet

Apparently there's to be yet another retranslation of the New International Version. It's been noted in various places: Clayboy, Peter Kirk, Church Mouse etc.

This follows the updating of the NIV with 'Todays New International Version' a few years ago, which will be taken off the market in 2011 when the new one comes out. (It will then be rebranded 'Yesterdays New International Version'.) TNIV's main difference from the original is the use of 'inclusive language' (i.e. not saying 'men' when you mean 'men and women', etc.)

1. I agree with Eddie Arthur: yet another translation of the Bible in English, when there are still 2000 languages which don't have their own translation.

2. This seems like a collossal waste of paper. Unless the translators are going to junk large parts of the text (which seems unlikely) the amendments are likely to be fairly minor. As a result of a few changes of words here and there, does the whole thing need to be reprinted? (with, of course, the marketing variations: Youth NNIV, Womens NNIV, Bus Drivers NNIV, NNIV for backsliders, etc.)

3. The rebranding possibilities may be even more controversial than the contents. Possibilities so far:
- Tomorrows New International Version (TNIV, not to be confused with TNIV)
- Newer International Version (NIV, not to be confused with NIV)
- Very New International Version (VNIV, which is starting to look like a Roman date)
- Brand New International Version (BNIV, which ceases to be true as soon as you've bought it, and so risks making a complete liar out of everyone who owns a copy)
- New International Version 3.0, which can be released in digital form and updated by download whenever a new bit of translation becomes available.
- 21st Century NIV: bit of a hostage to fortune, as you then can't amend it again for 89 years. Actually '21st century' already sounds dated.

3. My suggestion: if this enterprise really needs to happen, then publish the changes in a leaflet. People can then get the leaflet (or view it online) and go to their own bibles with a pencil, and make the necessary amendments. It strikes me this has several advantages
- it saves trees, energy, transport etc.
- it saves money
- it will get lots of NIV-owners reading their Bibles, and who knows, they may actually come across something they'd not read before, and be really blessed by it.

Update: Peter Kirk points out that the NIV dedicate some of their revenue to funding bible translation, and supports the retranslation project. However, thought it's slightly tongue-in-cheek, I still think my suggestion (3) has some merit. Peter argues that many translations of the Bible into new languages are based on the English. In the internet age, if there was a Biblepedia where the best English translation of a passage, new manuscript finds, etc. could be posted, then this could be up to date at whatever point a translator wanted to use it, instead of having to wait 25+ years for an update of the latest NIV.

Also worth noting that the NIV isn't the only translation on the market, and there are new 'up to date' English translations appearing every 2-3 years or so.


  1. I'm very happy for you to use my real name, but was surprised to see that it links to Peter Kirk ;-)

  2. Sorry Doug. Now corrected!!!